Seeing your own parents now, as an adult, is stressful. There’s a great Ram Dass line that the comedian Pete Holmes has used in relation to his own parents: You think you’re enlightened—go spend a week with your family.
The point is, having Mom and Dad come stay with you is few people’s idea of a relaxing weekend. It’s stranger still once you have kids, because suddenly you start to see and think about your own childhood differently. Some insights you get are good, but some of the behaviors you see make you sad. Because you see it through the eyes of your own kids now, you see how it affects them. How could I have handled these people as a child, you think. This is no way to live.
As we’ve said before, each one of us needs to examine these feelings and process them. Your kids are a second chance for you. You have to heal your inner child. You have to wipe the slate clean. But this exercise—of seeing your parents and their flaws through your kid’s eyes—should also humble you.
Because how do you think it is living with you now? Do you think it’s easy to be a kid in your house? Or might it be incredibly stressful and disorienting—what, with all your anxieties and vices and issues? Remember that your kids—like you all those years ago—have no idea that this isn’t normal. They have no idea that you mean well but are flawed. They have no idea that this is stuff you’re working on in therapy or in your journal or with your spouse. All they feel are the effects. The residue of your unaddressed anger. The insanity of your need to control things. The stress of your work.
That’s not fair. They can’t handle it. You have to handle it.